The Children’s Court of NSW (pursuant to the Children’s Court Act NSW 1987) function is to hear most criminal matters involving those persons aged between 10 and 18 years of age (with the exception of those involved in traffic matters and aged 16-18 years of age who are directed to the jurisdiction of the Local Court)
- Serious indictable offences committed by a ‘child’ as defined by s3 of the Children’s Criminal Procedure Act (CCPA) are dealt with the District and Supreme Court.
- Sections 26, 27 and 28 of the Children’s Criminal Procedure Act also recognizes the jurisdiction of the Children’s court and that it is the main jurisdiction dealing with the functions of the Children’s Criminal Procedure Act for persons under 21 years of age – and for matters that are not deemed ‘serious indictable offences’.
The Law is wary of children who are clients and witnesses and The Children’s Court of NSW expects lawyers representing any child victim, witness or a child charged with an offence, to be fully briefed to properly represent that child.
The NSW Law Society for the Representation Principles of Children provides you a downloadable PDF Guide for lawyers.
This PDF guide covers a range of issues relevant for children that are either clients or victim/ witnesses.
This guide is provided to aid lawyers with children who are recognized as vulnerable. This includes children of domestic violence.
A Child in Children’s Court as a Legal client or Witness:
For Clients who are unable to provide instructions:
- The NSW Law Society recognize that the best interests of the child are paramount.This is no different to representing an adult client.
Example, this can include a child client present at court for a matter with a parent or guardian, who attends court for criminal matters and who is often less forthcoming with giving instructions with a parent present.
- Children are often intimidated by the formality of The Children’s Court of NSW or embarrassed by their actions resulting in criminal charges that end up at court.
- A child client can also be easily intimidated by a parent/authority figure fearing judgment and /or disappointing a parent.
ETB Legal have often had to speak with child clients alone…. and explain to them that they are entitled to client and lawyer professional privilege.
A child witness can easily be traumatized by the event they witnessed involving a serious crime, or as a victim of a crime from a assault to a more a serious sexual assault.
Children who are the victims of this kind of domestic violence suffer years of trauma that often will often plague them into adulthood.
The role a child victim of domestic violence plays in court can be daunting, leave a child feeling guilty for reporting and testifying against what they deem to be a ‘trustworthy’ person, such as a family figure, adult figure they have known all their lives and created a dependency with.
It can be apparent that a child will feel guilty for reporting or testifying if the accused is placed in custody and a child can feel guilty and blame themselves for the inevitable sanction of the accused.
Such matters are also littered with other complexities involving the way a child can be placed into the care of the state , a foster home, or simply passed from one relative to another over a series of years.
Domestic violence does not simply involve the single act of a man hitting a woman, it can involve a lifetime of victims.
If you or a family member have to attend The Children’s Court of NSW- ETB Legal can help you.